Blog Hop Interview – Tracey M. Cox


Hello all!!!   My friend, Cheryl Malanrinos, asked me to participate in this “blog hop interview.”

The idea is this: She sent me some interview questions, which I answer, and then at the end I tag 3 other writers who will in turn answer the same questions on their blogs next week.

I hope you will find this interesting and informative and maybe a little fun. Can’t wait to see what my friends say!

Best wishes,


1. What are you working on right now?

Right now I have several pbs I’m revising. I don’t have a current work in progress, but I’m actively included in the 12×12 group hosted by Julie Hedlund. This is a group where we write 12 new manuscripts in 12 months. So far I’m 6 for 6 this year!!!!

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?

I try to be diversified in my writing. I like to be different and keep things interesting. One manuscript is about the farm that I live on. Another manuscript is about my son in the army and how it affects us. Yet another manuscript is about a cowgirl who daydreams about different places and people she has never seen.

3. What experiences have influenced you?

Every experience influences me in some way. Moving, loosing love ones, having family reunions, eating ice cream on a hot summer day. EVERYTHING! 🙂

4. Why do you write what you do?

I tell everyone I’m a Toys R Us Kid. I don’t wanna grow up. I’m a forever 4 1/2 year old. BUT REALLY? Children have a special way of looking at the world. So many of them don’t see color of skin, or differences of clothes, or the different accents, or handicaps as disabilities. Children feel things deep and will tell you how they see it. What a better age to reach out to, to see the world as they see it, to love like they love  and to hopefully touch their hearts and minds and change them for the better.

5. How does your writing process work?

I get an idea. I let it stew. I write it out long hand. (YEP, pencil and paper!) I will go through several drafts long hand. Eventually I’ll type it up on my pc. Then I revise, revise, revise, revise until it is ready.

6. What is the hardest part about writing?

Wow, I think it is my own self-doubt. Is it a good idea? Does my story stink? Is it ready? Will an editor like it? Is it publishable? Yeah, I would say self-doubt is pretty hard.

7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

I would like to try writing mid grade or young adult one day. I have two ideas on paper, but they haven’t gotten very far in over seven years.

8. Who are the authors you most admire?

Eve Bunting is on top of my list. She has written about everything across the board. She writes it all!

9. What scares you?

Besides my hubby sneaking up behind me and poking me in the ribs? hahahahha! (He’s a stinker!)
I would say spiders. Not the big ones mind you. I can see them coming. It’s the itty bitty ones that come out of now where that will get me screaming. And I know that makes NO SENSE what so ever seeing as though as I have written an alphabet book on spiders. But would you believe it has actually helped me with my phobia? Who would have thought! I still don’t like them though.


OK, so now I need to tag three writing friends of mine. Let me see, who can be a great guinea pig??? OH!!!! Cynthia Lord because of the guinea pig reference. ha!), Mona Pease (on of my dearest and firstest writer friends!), and Connie Fleming (one talented writing & acting lady!)… are you all game???? I will send you the questions and you’ll have to let everyone know the link!


Hope you all enjoyed that. hahahaha.

Tips On A Tuesday: How Can We Make Our Novels More Suspenseful by Nancy Stewart

Happy Tuesday folks.

Today I’m happy to be hosting Nancy Stewart. Nancy will be giving some great tips on how to bring your audience into the story and get them on pins and needles.

Don’t forget to follow Nancy’s links after the article to learn more about her and her books.

Thanks Nancy!!!

Best wishes and Happy Writing!!!




How Can We Make Our Novels More Suspenseful?

I have four tips today for making our novels suspenseful.  I hope you find them useful and exciting to use!



Put potential menace into everyday objects.

Make your character hyper-aware of sensations and sound and you ratchet up the dramatic tension. It all adds up to a feeling of impending danger, though it isn’t clear from what.

Suspense is sustained by the absence of anything terrible happening, and the continued focus on detail.

Remember: Your goal is to heighten anticipation.

*All examples are from my middle grade novel, Lost on the Skeleton Coast:

Olivia trudged around the rock shelter toward the streambed. This had to be the most forlorn part of the whole camp. Gaping crevices in the jagged stone hill stared at Olivia as she traveled around it. Deep crevices where someone could easily hide and wait to ambush an unsuspecting person.  Shadowy crevices that could shelter a large animal. Why hadn’t she noticed these before? Probably because she was never alone in this part of camp.  A prickle of panic played with the back of her neck. “I smell the darkness coming out of there.”



Slowing down time increases suspense and anticipation!

Use complex sentences when possible:To create a feeling of apprehension about what might happen next, use longer, more complex sentences rather than rat-a-tat, subject-verb-object.

Internal dialogue: Let the reader hear your character’s thoughts.

Camera close-ups: You want the reader as close in as possible, experiencing the tension of your suspense sequence firsthand.

Quiet and darkness: Stillness and shadows suggest hidden menace.

Example: Footsteps. Stealthy ones. Someone tried to be silent but was not succeeding because of loose gravel around the entrance. Andy? But maybe it wasn’t. Slipping into one of the pitch-black passages, Olivia hugged the wall and felt her way along, careful to avoid the needles. Okay, so where was the snake that had to be there? Coiled, it would rise up, hiss and bite her. With increasing dread, she waited. No snake. But was that a shuffle onto stone? A presence was close to her. Too close.



Creating a suspense sequence that ends harmlessly is a good way to foreshadow something more sinister that happens later in your novel.

When you insert a hint of what’s to come, look at it critically and decide whether it’s something the reader will glide right by but remember later with an Aha! That’s foreshadowing. If instead the reader groans and guesses what’s coming, you’ve telegraphed.

Ultimately, the line between foreshadowing and telegraphing is in the eye of the beholder.



What was that?” Olivia stopped sweeping, sat back and cocked her head. “Maybe it’s nerves, but I hear something that’s creeping me out.”

Andy put the trowel down and looked at her. “What? Where?”

She held her finger to her lips. “Sounds like metal scraping on rock. And it’s close. Could it be Pat? Maybe we should see?”

I’ll go partway up the ladder and take a look.” He climbed a few rungs, slowly bringing his eyes even with the top of the trench. “Nothing. But the wind’s blowing a little harder than usual. Maybe that’s what you heard.”


Always End With a Payoff:

The payoff can be an unsettling discovery of evidence of a crime—finding a dead body, bloodstained clothing, a weapons cache, or that the floor of a basement has been dug up. The discovery might reveal a character’s secret. Finding love letters or a personal diary might reveal a hidden relationship between two characters. Finding drug paraphernalia in a car might suggest that a suburban matron has a secret life.  Or it can be a plot twist: The bad guy confesses; the sleuth gets attacked, or locked in a basement, or lost in a cave; or the police show up and arrest the sleuth.



We’re going to take you down, Pat,” Andy growled, “for kidnapping our uncle. The police can take care of diamond smuggling stuff.”

Olivia watched Pat intently. Was that apprehension flitting across his face? “Caught off guard, weren’t you, you jerk?” Hands clinched, Olivia walked toward Pat and stopped before he could grab her. Andy edged next to his sister.

Look, guys, all I want is to walk away with my piece of the loot. But there’s plenty for us all. Happy to share with you—and Blake, of course.”

Agggh!” Andy tucked and rammed Pat in the stomach. “That’s for my uncle!” Pounding Pat on the chest, Andy was fierce, but Pat was too powerful. Grabbing Andy’s arms, he jerked him to the ground and jumped on his back.

Olivia darted toward Pat, right hand brushing her pocket. The diamond rock! Working the stone out of her pocket, she lifted it and struck Pat on the head. Once, then twice. Did she really hit him—again? Could that be her hand holding the rock? It felt foreign, as if belonging to someone else.

Pat slumped over Andy and crumpled to the ground. Heaving him off, Andy rolled Pat on his back. “I think we might have gone a concussion too far, Olive.”


I hope these tips and examples can help with your suspense ratcheting! It’s fun and effective.  Happy goosebump writing!


Nancy Stewart

nancy stewart


Member:  (Published and Listed) 

*One Pelican at a Time: A Story of the Gulf Oil Spill, 18 weeks on Amazon Bestseller in Children’s Books, Amazon Hotew Releases, Amazon Most Wished for in Children’s Books, The Literary Classics Silver Award, 2012, Literary Classics Seal of Approval, Global eBook Award Nominee, Readers Favorite 5 Star Award (Guardian Angel Publishing, 2011)
*Sea Turtle Summer: Amazon Bestseller in Children’s Books, The Literary Classics Gold Award, 2012, Literary Classics Seal of Approval, 2011 (Guardian Angel Publishing, December, 2011)
*Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage: Amazon Bestseller in Children’s Books (Guardian Angel Publishing, May, 2012)
*Bella Saves the Beach: (Guardian Angel Publishing, March, 2013)

Marketing Monday: What I’ve Learned So Far… by Deb Hockenberry

Hello everyone.

First of all I must say I feel like a heel. Deb’s wonderful post should have been posted last Monday. *booo-hisssss to me* I didn’t hit the right button to schedule it properly. Her post was patiently waiting for it’s command in the draft section.


I really am happy to post it though and hope you all will get some tidbits out of this great article.

Be sure to read Deb’s bio and follow her links.

Thanks, Deb!

Best wishes and Happy Writing!




Thank you for having me guest post on your blog today, Tracey. I’d like to discuss what I’ve learned so far about marketing and promoting my book.

As I told Tracey, My picture book is being published by 4RV Publishing. Okay, that’s great news for me but now what? I have to market and promote my book but how? So far, I’ve found a few ways.

First, it’s important to have an web presence. Start a blog, a website, or both. If you want to do both, Weebly is a very good webhost. You’ll find this at It’s a WYSIWYG website and that makes it very friendly for a non – techie person like myself. They also give you the choice of using HTML if you prefer. They let you have unlimited pages in your site so you set up a blog among your pages. They also let you post videos and audio files. I’m finding out in my research that posting videos on your website is just as important as the website itself!

Read books about promoting your book. They give you good advice. I know that there are people out there who say discouraging things about them like, “These books are a year or two old. They’re outdated.” Nothing is further from the truth. Sadly, I’ve only found three children’s marketing books. I’ve just downloaded one of these to my Kindle and have only just begun to read it. This book has excellent reviews on Amazon and I can’t wait to explore it’s suggestions! All three books are listed in the resources at the end of this article. Now, I have some good news! I’ve been reading two other marketing books. One is called EIGHT HOURS TO JUMP START YOU CAREER, THE EIGHT HOUR SERIES by Tammie Clarke Gibbs. The other is THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER by Carolyn Howard – Johnson. Both have excellent advice and are available in both print and Kindle formats on

I have to stop here and let you know that these two books have nothing to do with marketing and promoting children’s books but I think this is just fine. They’re both about promoting the book which is my goal. The emphasis in Ms. Clarke’s book is on ebooks written for adults.  Ms. Howard – Johnson’s book is about marketing and promoting all books in general before and after publication. As with Ms. Gibbs book, I’m using Ms. Howard – Johnson’s suggestions to promote my children’s book. The point here is that you can take the suggestions from any book about promoting and marketing, tweak them to suit your needs, and use them for your own book. I’ve even garnered a few ideas of my own from reading them!

Both books emphasize the importance of social networking sites like Facebook, Goodreads, Google +, Shelfari, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others. They both emphasize joining groups that are similar to your book and being active in them. They also state that you should start your author pages on these sites. Unfortunately, a lot of these sites require your book to be listed on or Barnes and However, Facebook will let you. I’ve been advised that the sooner you create one there, the better. So, I did. I have everything up there but a picture of the book cover. Heck, I even have a few posts up now!

We all know how social networking sites are constantly popping up on the ever changing Internet. We all have to do our own work to seek these sites out. There’s no getting around this at all! I can’t finish this paragraph without mentioning the ning groups. These are groups within groups and they cover every subject imaginable including every aspect of writing there is. One of these groups is called BOOK MARKETING. You might want to check this group out. I’ve listed the URL for the group below.

There are many other groups about book promoting on the other social networking sites too. I advise that you join these. You will get so many ideas and good suggestions from the other members about marketing your book! No matter what social networking site your on, just search for ‘book promoting’ or ‘book marketing.’

There are some good marketing blogs out there too. I’d advise you to subscribe to these since they offer up – to – date and fantastic advice! I’ve listed some of these below as well.

So, get yourself a web presence so you talk about your book. Start a blog, a website, or both. This is so important! Read those marketing books and form your own ideas. Join the many different social networking sites, get to know the people, and let them know you!



Deb Hockenberry

deb hockenberry

Deb Hockenberry

Deb has always wanted to write for children. She loved making up stories and telling them to her younger brothers, sisters, and neighborhood friends. If no – one was around, she told them to her pets – and she still does!

Finally, she decided the time had come to write these stories down. But she knew that in order to do it properly, she needed to study. So, Deb took two courses in writing for children from the Institute of Children’s Literature. She also belongs to the ongoing children’s literature workshop called The CBI Clubhouse as well as S.C.B.W.I. They are always such fun!

Deb was born in Pennsylvania. When she was in her early teens her family moved to a special place in Central Pennsylvania. She enjoys living there, particularly watching the mountains. There’s always something to see!

Deb especially likes watching the mountains wake up after a cold dreary winter. She enjoys watching the pale green leaf buds popping out on the trees and slowly changing into bright green leaves. She especially loves the fall when the trees change their colors. Then the mountains are dotted with the most colorful reds, yellows, and oranges you ever saw!

When she’s not writing Deb enjoys reading and reviewing books, watching movies, television and doing crafts.

You can learn more about Deb by visiting her website at





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