Author Interview: Tammy L. Grace (and her dog Zoe)

I’m happy to welcome Tammy L. Grace to share about her dog, her writing process, and what she’s got coming up next!

What does your writing process look like?

I’m most productive in the morning, so tend to write early in the day. I outline my ideas in a notebook, but write by typing directly into the computer in my home office. I usually have background music playing or the television. I typically make myself a cup of tea, a chai tea latte, or have a Coke Zero handy.

I usually read what I have written the day before to get back in the swing of the story before beginning. I use that time to fine tune or change things that don’t sound right. It takes some time but affords me the ability to do some proofing as I go and make sure the story flows correctly.

For Killer Music, I did a very detailed outline and plotted 90% of the book out before I started writing. For my other series of books, I wasn’t as detailed with my outline and added several things as I progressed through the story with the characters.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Tammy’s dog Zoe celebrating her birthday.

Wow, I’m not sure, does talking to my dog count? Most people comment on the number of Sharpies I have on my desk. I tend to collect (hoard) the colorful markers and use them for notes, marking up drafts, and everything else. I love them and finally have an excuse to invest in all the colors, which makes editing easier.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of writing is developing the characters. I have the most fun inventing quirks and backstories for them. I enjoy creating them and making them into friends I’d want to know or sometimes people I’d rather avoid.

My least favorite part of writing would be editing. The process of re-reading and correcting wears me out. Even after my editor sends it back, I still go through it and tweak things. At some point an author has to stop editing and pronounce the project finished. I obsess at times and could see myself continuing to edit and correct, making improvements. I work well with deadlines, so generally give myself a date to complete the edits and finish.

Is there a subject you would never write about?

I don’t see myself writing in the science fiction genre. I tend to choose genres and subjects I enjoy reading myself, and I’ve never been a fan of science fiction.

How important are names in your books? How do select names?

Names are extremely important. I agonize over names for my characters and have a habit of spending a lot of time on this exercise. I maintain several lists of character names in my notebooks. I tend to shy away from names of people I know, but it’s almost impossible to do that. I always research names online, for popularity in the decade matching my character’s age. I also look for unusual names and in Killer Music enlisted the help of some friends from Tennessee who were kind enough to share a few family names with me. I changed the main character’s name in Killer Music to “Coop” more than halfway through the book. I’ve done that on a few of my books when I hear or find a name I really like that “fits” my character.

What literary character is most like you?

That’s a tough question, but one that comes to mind is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. I’m a big nerd and was always one to raise my hand and answer questions. I love to study, read, and learn. I’d live in a library if I could. I’m calm in a crisis and tend to be the glue that holds things together. Hermione is all that and makes it seem much cooler than I do.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I’d like to write a successful thriller.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t?

Only one, huh? I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for years and after watching Outlander, it’s moved to the top of my list.

What books/authors have inspired you?

I’ve consumed books since I was a child and consider reading my favorite hobby, so it’s tough to name just a few. I think the first book that inspired me to want to write a book was Little Women. I love books that suck the reader in and make me feel like I’m part of the story, immersed in the characters. Authors that come to mind that consistently do this are David Baldacci, Kristin Hannah, Nicholas Sparks, Lee Child, Debbie Macomber, and Diana Galbaldon.

What are you working on now?

I’ve started the fourth book in my Hometown Harbor Series. Like the previous three this will be set in Friday Harbor, off the coast of Washington. Readers will be reunited with the characters they’ve come to know and love, but the fourth book will focus on Ellie Carlson, the local baker and owner of Sweet Treats.


When private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington meets record label mogul Grayson Taylor at a swank gathering of country music artists and politicians he never imagines he’ll be investigating his brutal murder less than twenty-four hours later.

The suspects are plentiful. More than a handful of people could have wanted him dead. Retained by Taylor’s widow, Coop works alongside his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. The investigation leads Coop and Ben to visit the luxurious mansions of recording industry magnates, navigate the murky undercurrents of the political world, and probe complicated family matters. Scandalous indiscretions, secrets, and hints of corruption swirl in the midst of their pursuit of the killer.

Coop’s faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, both lend a hand during the investigation. Even his Aunt Camille mines the local gossip mill to unearth potential killers with motive. Yet the case seems hopeless until a crucial piece of evidence emerges that sends Coop and Ben on a race to catch the killer before someone else dies.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing.

When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

Writing book reviews: The pros and cons and why I need a break…

So here’s a good way to deal with negative reviews.

I’m slowing down a bit on how many posts I have on my blog because it just takes a lot of time, and, well, I’m feeling a bit lazy about this right now. I could use the Holidays as an excuse, but that’s not entirely truthful. I plan to get back to doing more reviews at some point in the new year, but I also want a break to just read for fun.

Undertaking the writing of reviews was an endeavor I had some trepidation about, but it’s been a good experience for the most part. Reading a book with the intent of reviewing it at the end–in a more concrete way than a gut reaction–has made me think about the nature of reviews and writing in a new way. It’s hard to write a quality review, and I don’t know if I’ve always succeeded.

As a fiction writer, I already think about the nuts and bolts of writing while I’m crafting my stories, but in the context of reviewing, I’ve gotten a new take on the process. For one thing, I’ve had to refine and define what it is that I like about a particular story, writing style, word usage, length, etc. Art is subjective–both in the making and consuming of it.

It’s important to keep this subjectivity in mind when reading or writing a review. Sometimes a completely irrational thing makes me dislike a book–I don’t connect with a character, a situation reminds me of an unpleasant memory, I wanted more or less of a certain aspect. Also, there are many theories about style. Some are sticklers for grammar (like me, for the most part) and some don’t care as much or intentionally play fast and loose with rules for a particular reason. Honestly, I think it’s difficult to do the latter successfully because you have to convince the reader that you’re breaking the rules for a good reason.

So at this point, a break is in order. I want to focus on my own writing and take some time to read for relaxation. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about writing and reading reviews. What do you look for in a book you enjoy? What makes a review helpful to you as a writer or reader?